Get Persuasive-worthy Testimonials with this Makeover Formula

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Use this formula when you or your team need to gather and optimize testimonials quickly

You want to add social proof to your sales emails. Good idea! If you need something fast, I suggest using customer testimonials. Compared to other forms of reviews, customer testimonials are different because they are sought and selected by you.

You can:

  • Choose the customer who gives the testimonial
  • Control what message is displayed
  • Decide where the testimonial is placed in the email

Word-of-mouth and third-party reviews don’t allow that flexibility.

Use customer testimonials

“When value is demonstrated rather than described it immediately becomes more relatable … Showing is more powerful than telling because it reflects the customer’s desire, problem or dilemma (alongside your potential solution) back to him. This is why success stories build trust in a way marketing copy never can.” Bernadette Jiwa

Your prospective buyer is bombarded with choices. As he considers what product or service to buy, inner tension builds. He’s looking for reassurance. Good testimonials minimize the friction a prospective buyer experiences inside his head. When he reads other customers’ opinions, he instinctively views this feedback as fact.

Good customer testimonials add credibility to your offer.

So read my tips and learn how to enhance your customer testimonials. If you act on these ideas, your testimonials will resonate to your prospective customer.

A good testimonial depends on good planning

Identify the type of customer to give a testimonial. Think about who would influence your prospective customer. Your best customers? Your loyal, long-term customers? Customers with similar job titles? Customers who have similar objections? Yes, deciding the “who” matters.

Perhaps you have some customer testimonials already, but the statements are date-stamped four years ago. Way too old. Interested buyers want fresh feedback, not old news.

And if you enlist the help of your sales and customer support teams (which is another good idea. Good thinking, you!), you will want to give them direction.

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The Makeover Testimonial

Here’s a formula to guide you and others. I learned about this from Joanna Wiebe’s blog and traced the formula to the source. I call it the makeover testimonial formula.

Using this structure will simplify what questions to ask your customers.

The Makeover Testimonial Formula

Three parts:

  1. Start with before: What hesitations did they feel before the purchase?
  2. Then explain after: What did the client discover after the purchase?
  3. Then speak to the experience: What did they feel?


Covering each part is necessary. What was his life like before he became a customer? What benefits did the customer enjoy after? And what was his emotional response to the experience?

The essence is the contrast, thereby showing the struggle before and the success after becoming a customer.

The testimonial below is a good example. In their own words, the clients are describing their “before and after.”

Testimonial using narrative
Bernadette Jiwa, The Story of Telling

A good testimonial is a good story

Storytelling in marketing isn’t new. We know it’s powerful. Especially when we position the hero as the customer. The formula frames a testimonial into a story. A Cinderella tale, a before-and-after story, and the After is a happy ending.

The customer shares how the product / service touched their lives, and in the telling, emotions are apparent.

Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick, say tapping into the emotional is one of six traits that make content “sticky.” Incorporating emotions makes the message understood, memorable and inspiring. Made to Stick Model PDF

A formula also resolves the problem of “I don’t know where to start.” Try it!

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